Integration policies and programmes determine migrants’ opportunities to participate in society on an equal footing by providing them with education opportunities, labour market access, quality social services, civic and political rights. However, instead of making the creation of a comprehensive integration strategy a priority, EU and Member States’ migration policies have been increasingly focused on border control and return procedures. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are the main actors developing and implementing initiatives to ensure integration and equal social opportunities for migrants and refugees. Their work should be supported with more social investment.
The current anti-refugee and anti-immigrant discourse, fuelled by xenophobic and populist forces, has a negative impact on the public perception of the CSOs that are working to ensure migrants’ access to economic, social and cultural rights. Political and media attacks on CSOs should not distract the institutions from their obligation to provide decent conditions for migrants and refugees up to the standards of the EU and international human rights frameworks.
SOLIDAR has developed recommendations on third-country nationals’ integration policies in the framework of the Social Progress Watch 2016 covering 15 Member States. The results of the Social Progress Watch indicate that National Action Plans on migration are not being effectively implemented due to slow and low quality administrative and legislative processes. In practical terms, CSOs and NGOs are the actors that develop and implement initiatives to ensure integration and equal opportunities for migrants and refugees. However, CSOs are not always included in the definition of policy priorities/target groups and in the planning, allocation and implementation of the national and EU funds for asylum, migration and integration. Policies and actions supportive of civic participation are missing and should be included in order to foster social cohesion. Moreover, access to high quality and equal social provisions for migrants and refugees are not guaranteed in many countries.
In view of these findings, SOLIDAR considers that the European Action Plan to support Member States in the integration of third-country nationals should guarantee a comprehensive strategy for integration based on a rights based approach to provide equal opportunities and concrete means for participation in society and labour market, as stated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. To achieve this, SOLIDAR makes the following recommendations:
Find out more about our briefing on the 2016 SOLIDAR Social Progress Watch Initiative regarding third-country nationals’ integration policies.